Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus)
The Department for the Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) has been successful in its application to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for $65,000 of funding to carry out a project to improve the habitat for spiny lobsters in TCI waters it was confirmed on Thursday.
Catch numbers for the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) have been in decline in the TCI over the past five years, and it is believed locally that one cause of this is the reduction in the quality and quantity of lobster habitat. This has primarily been caused by damage inflicted by hurricanes Hannah and Ike in 2008.
To try and address this, DEMA will host a number of workshops with the local fisherfolk community that will teach them how to construct and deploy artificial lobster habitats (‘casitas.’) In addition, a full biological assessment of traditional fishing areas to determine the health and number of existing habitats will be carried out.
The project will last for up to a year, with monitoring of the habitat’s progress undertaken for a further three years.
“This project represents an excellent opportunity for us to try and improve spiny lobster habitat in TCI waters,” said director of DEMA, Kathleen Wood. “Numerous studies have indicated that artificial habitats increase the abundance and biomass of lobsters in areas where habitat is limited, and we are hopeful that we will see such results here. We are grateful to the FCO for funding the work.”
Commenting on the grant of the funding, Governor Peter Beckingham said: “The lobster fishing industry is important to TCI, and I am delighted that the FCO has been able to fund this project. The grant highlights both the commitment of the UK to assisting TCI’s local communities and the excellent work of DEMA in their continuing efforts to protect and enhance TCI’s natural environment.”